Lonesome Pine Ranch clinches trip to WRCA World Championships with Loveland win | TheFencePost.com

Lonesome Pine Ranch clinches trip to WRCA World Championships with Loveland win

Story and photos Tony Bruguiere

At the Rock'n Western Rendezvouz Ranch Rodeo in Loveland, 12 working ranches squared off to prove which had the best skills. For the ranches, the event was about pride in their ranch and brand. The contest boils down to one idea — "my brand is better than your brand."

This is the second year for the event's ranch rodeo. Abby Powell, Senior Events Manager for The Ranch Events and chairman of the WRCA ranch rodeo committee, believes that the ranch rodeo is a good fit for The Ranch and northern Colorado.

"We wanted to bring a ranch rodeo, and particularly a WRCA ranch rodeo, into northern Colorado because it is unique. It's different than the regular PRCA rodeo, which we are big fans of as well," she said. "We have a great PRCA rodeo during our fair, but this brings back a little more western heritage, and brings in the cowboys that are out there working on the ranches every day.

"This year going forward we hope to expand on everything and continue success. We added a new event called the Top Hand Championship, which we are expecting to have a really good turnout for."

Gary Morton, Director of the WRCA Association board and Chairman of the WRCA Foundation board, was in Loveland to watch this inaugural event.

"The idea actually came from the folks that run this ranch rodeo in Loveland to have a Top Hand challenge. It's a new competition and it consists of three events – ranch horse show, one man reining, and a dally calf roping. All done by individuals who won Top Hand in the last year at one of our rodeos." Morton said. "So it is Top Hand against Top Hand to determine the best-of- the-best. We are really excited about it and think it's to going to be a great event."

Recommended Stories For You

Chris Potter, a member of the Lonesome Pine Ranch team, the 2015 WRCA World Champions, won the first ever Top Hand Championship. Potter was very excited about the win and the opportunity to compete against some of the very best cowboys in the WRCA.

"It was excellent. I thought it was a lot of fun," he said. "It was an invitation-only deal and we got to compete against all of the Top Hands from 2015. This is the first year that they had it and they invited all of the people that won a WRCA Top Hand last year and nine of us entered up.

"They're all top hands for a reason. They are all good competitors, there were five others that have a tough run and didn't make it to tonight. You just have to be on the top of your game. Any little bobble will mess you up. It was only three points separating first and third and any one of us could have won it."

The Rock'n Western Rendezvous has attracted major sponsors and more are expected next year. American Cowboy Magazine is one of those major sponsors and its editor, Bob Welch, believes in the concept so strongly that he competes on the composite team of Iron Springs Ranch and Welch Cattle Company.

"The Ranch people are so great to work with. I thought from the time we started working with them and starting this event that their concept of this event was kind of our magazine brought to life. There are lots of different parts of the cowboy world here. There's Chuckwagons, there's rodeo, there's music, there's shopping, there's gear – all of the trappings that the cowboy needs from saddles to spurs, and more," Welch said.

So what exactly is ranch rodeo? Ranch rodeo is all about teamwork and the real work that cowboys do every day. It is about animals of a size that a cowboy can expect to see every day. It is about competing on the weekend with the tack that you work with all week.

Large ranches will field the four person teams made entirely of their employees, but smaller ranches with fewer employees are permitted to combine to make up a team. The truly huge operations like the Silver Spur, whose headquarters is in Encampment, Wyo., can easily field multiple teams from multiple operations that are under the Silver Spur brand. The Silver Spur is very active in ranch rodeo.

"I would say, and I'm speaking for my boss, Thad York, the company's view on this is that it is an opportunity for people to see Silver Spur employees and horses so we can get those horses out there.

"The other part of it is I think it is important companywide for people to get off the ranch and have some recreation time. We are really busy and we don't have a lot of extra people. We go pretty hard year-round and I think Thad feels like if these guys can get away from the ranch and have a little bit of fun it probably makes them a better employee." said Decky Spiller of the Silver Spur Ranches Kiowa Division.

No one is going to get rich competing in ranch rodeo. There is a small amount of prize money and prizes given to the winning team, but mostly it's about showing off an individual's skills and the pride that they have in their ranch.

The real prize is that the winning team can go on to compete at the WRCA World Championships held in Amarillo, Texas. In fact, the only way to get to the Finals is to win a WRCA sanctioned event or to win second place behind a team that has already qualified for the finals.

The winning team at the Rock'n Western Rendezvous WRCA Sanctioned Ranch Rodeo at The Ranch was the Lonesome Pine Ranch from Kansas. Lonesome Pine Ranch team members were Budd Higgs, Troy Higgs, Chris Potter, Travis Duncan, Frank Higgs and MaKenzie Higgs.

This was the first time the Lonesome Pine Ranch has competed at The Ranch, but they are certainly not new to ranch rodeo. They have competed at the world championships 13 times, have been Reserve Champion twice and World Champion in 2015.

There are still two remaining WRCA ranch rodeos in Colorado, the Colorado Championship Ranch Rodeo in Hugo in June and the Ride For The Brand Ranch Rodeo in Colorado Springs in August.

"The WRCA was essentially established to promote the cowboy way of life and show it to people and preserve the true working ranch Cowboy," said Randy Norris, WRCA president. "It's also a vehicle to fund the foundation where we give college scholarships to the kids of working ranch cowboys and crisis help when any of them get hurt or has a family disaster. We've given out over $2 million in scholarship and crisis support over the last 10 years."❖

Results

1ST — Lonesome Pine Ranch, 78

2ND — Four Three Land & Cattle / FX Bar, 59

3RD — Beatty Canyon / Flying A Ranch, 49

4TH — Bootheel 7 Livestock / Hageman Ranch, 47.5

TOP HAND: Lance Hladky (Bootheel 7 Livestock / Hageman Ranch)

TOP HORSE: Cody Kendall – Little Tee J Paul (Beachner Brothers)